Polar Vortex

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Last week’s untypically cold weather was coupled with warmer than usual temperatures in the Arctic – perfectly illustrating that the atmosphere is one continuum and that disturbances in one region of the world can have a dramatic impact in another, says Peter Inness, Lecturer in Meteorology, in a new post for The Conversation.

Simon Harrod  licensed under CC-BY-2.0

During the past week, bitterly cold weather has engulfed the UK and most of Northern Europe. At the same time, temperatures in the high Arctic have been 10 to 20°C above normal – although still generally below freezing.

The co-occurence of these two opposite extremes is no random coincidence. A quick climate rewind reveals how an unusual disturbance in the tropics more than a month ago sent out shock-waves thousands of kilometres in all directions, causing extreme weather events – not only in Europe and the Arctic, but in the southern hemisphere too.

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